What's happening in the US right now? What do we do about it? | Coursera Community

What's happening in the US right now? What do we do about it?

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Wherever you are in the world, you have likely heard about the collective uprising against racial injustice in the United States. You might be wondering what is going on and why now. 

Racial justice is important to me. I believe it’s my responsibility – as a human being, as a white American, and as a manager of a learning community – to share some resources for people who are watching. This is an incredible opportunity to learn and grow.

I invite you to pause.

Commit to learning about what has led up to this.

Consider that what you think you know might not be true.

Adjust your actions according to what you’ve learned.

Then repeat.


Resources for Everyone


Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

In this poignant op-ed piece, Abdul-Jabbar says, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.”

George Floyd: Five pieces of context to understand the protests
Crash course in understanding racial justice protests and why George Floyd’s murder is not an isolated event.

George Floyd: How are African-Americans treated under the law?
Very short and to the point piece with data showing how Black people in the US are disproportionately targeted.

Viewpoint: US must confront its Original Sin to move forward by Barrett Holmes Pitner

Holmes Pitner begins: “Following the death of George Floyd while under arrest, protests have consumed America and onlookers have wondered how one of the most powerful countries in the world could descend into such chaos. Despite being defined by race, American society does not spend much time analysing the history of our racial divisions, and America prefers to believe in the inevitable progression towards racial equality.”

I Am So Tired by Dr. Robert M. Sellers

Dr. Sellers is Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Michigan. Here’s an excerpt: “This morning, I woke up very tired. Not your normal tired. I woke up with a kind of tired that can only be found on the other side of loss, anger, frustration, sadness, and despair. This morning, I woke up in a state in which African Americans make up roughly 13% of the population, but comprise 31% of the people with COVID-19 and 40% of the people dying from COVID-19.”

Learn about race, inequality, and social justice

This is a collection of Coursera courses.


Resources for White People


If you haven’t studied systemic racism before, you’ll probably feel a lot of resistance at first. I know from experience. It can feel very uncomfortable and threatening to open ourselves up to the possibility that we’ve been complicit in racism – especially when we see ourselves as good, caring people. 

But the wonderful thing is that if you stick with the discomfort and keep going, you will eventually experience a sense of freedom. We are heavily socialized into a racist system, whether we want to be or not. Once we recognize this, we start to see the opportunities we have to make change. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s okay to pause, breathe, and take care of yourself so that you have the capacity to continue learning and taking action. Racial justice is a long game, and endurance is key. These are a few of my personal recommendations.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. Oluo’s book is getting a lot of attention right now, for good reason – it’s easy to read, provides practical steps, and covers a lot of issues related to race that most white people in the US have struggled with at some point. If you can’t get a copy of her book right now, read some of her writing online.

The Four I’s of Oppression – This 2-page document explains how racism and other forms of oppression show up in our lives. The four types of oppression are ideological, institutional, individual, and internalized. 

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. This is an excellent, easy to read introduction to understanding what it means to have white privilege.

For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies by Courtney Ariel. A great resource if you’re wondering “what can I do?”

If you’d like to explore more, check out Anti-racism Resources for White People.

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Laura, at this immensely tragic time, I am grateful for the wealth of educational information you have included above. It overwhelms, but needs to be absorbed, gone through with care.

Not only the USA, but the world has reacted to the killing of George Floyd. To see the knee of a police officer digging into his neck, was terribly painful. That the police officer was American, a nation that has stood for freedom, equality, proud of its immigrant diversity, that was also terribly shocking. 

Blacks in America deserve better. Whether in education, health, or treatment by those who represent the law, it is time to address these issues. There ought not to be any place for hatreds, intolerance, racism.. Instead, compassion in all decisions or policy making, is primordial, at this time of the pandemic. It is the only sustainable way to go, given unemployment is on the increment, life will change drastically from what it was. Without compassion for the lesser fortunate, and sadly coloured people are proportionately far worse off, our world will descend into abysses of decadence.

This problem is not only American, but suffered everywhere. Indigenous peoples, minorities, suffer racism everywhere. Gender in many cultures, in their hierarchies, is on the lowest rung, below the family livestock even. Girls are given lesser nourishment and education than their brothers..

Such injustices need to be addressed seriously.. Workers be given dignified salaries rather than pittances reminiscent of slavery, in every part of the world… Education, health ought to be the rights of all children, no matter the colour of their skins, or which class they have been born in. Equal opportunity in the true sense…

Compassion leads one to think of the welfare of the needy.. Not stamp them as undeserving, or lazy or other expletives.. If given a semblance of the opportunity as those who live in well looked after neighbourhoods, a decent education, they too would fly...


Hola, yo creo que es muy delicado el tema, sobre todo si la persona tiene baja autoestima y sentimientos encontrados al respecto.  En Venezuela no existe el Racismo, ni nada que se le parezca, pero igual un policía blanco reprime una manifestación y mata a un estudiante blanco.  Un Militar apresado por pensar diferente y apresado estando bajo cuidado de las las autoridades resulta muerto y nadie se hace responsable.  Yo creo que son temas delicados y que hay que tomar en cuenta nuestro entorno y cómo manejamos las situaciones tanto nosotros cómo los que las dirigen.

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May I have the opportunity to thank you for bringing up the horrifying incident that is giving the world a sleepless night......

The discussions have begun all over the country, which is a first step to change. Bringing this up here, @Laura is part of the discussions we need to have.

I am most surprised how other countries never realized that racism has been here. It is deeply rooted and not easily eradicated. Starting by evaluating and criminalizing police behaviors is a good step to take. The many demonstrations that have been happening have been bringing about much needed changes. A law to criminalize police chokeholds is one….I also just read that funding for police in some places will be cut and money will be given to communities instead.

We need to rethink who a policeman/woman is, what the job is and reevaluate its function. For too many years, police have gotten away with using unnecessary force , being the direct cause of death in mostly black people. It has happened before where police have gotten away with this….but I am encouraged that this will be changing now.

As for the inherent racism found here, this is a more complex issue not easily remedied. 

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The horrifying incident that happened in US over the George Floyd killing was devastating and if that was Racisim then I don't know the right definition of the word Racism.

Racism means  discrimination, Prejudice directed against someone of different race according to my understanding.

Regardless of the race can a normal person decides to kill another person because he is not of same race,I doubt there was persistence feeling of ill will.


Hi @Osman 

Sadly, we have been killing those not of our race since the founding of this country, with malice aforethought. We do kill because someone is not of our race, or if our race not our particular tribe, or our particular view of God or any number of “other not ours”. What we need to do is stop making it normal for people to do so, therein lies the challenge.


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Thank You @Halla

I got your point very well. I think Education is the best solution and also we have to guide the upcoming generation on matters concerning about Racisim.

Let's take the responsibility ourselves to end this habit.

@Osman , education alone won’t solve this. We need to have and implement strict laws about how police treat people which include severe  consequences.

We also must vote people into our government who will create the kinds of laws needed.

Education needs to be equal in quality for all, including free higher education. Finally, everyone needs to get equal health care.



The American Exceptionalism, needs a U turn by changing its constitution.

Racism,Rhetoric, and Research: Francis Scott Key and Our National Anthem

No refuge could save the hireling and slave.

The US constitution must be changed to include the African-Americans but most importantly the native Americans. You Can’t Ignore your Past: 


Rwanda, Germany, and South Africa have reckoned with their troubled past to make a better future, but America (The Americas) has long preferred to ignore the past, and proclaim the inevitability of progress.

Adding amendments will only confuse people, what is the second for? are you fighting against yourself (i.e. Americans are killing each other) ? what is the thirteenth for? Aren’t African-Americans regular Americans (no, British Colonial Marines are still in people’s mind)? What is the fourteenth for? Clarifying that they have been granted the right that all white Americans already have? Why all foreign born Americans are second class citizens since they can’t be US presidents? (i.e. Kenyan born Barack Obama conspiracy theory)

The Americas (North and South) are young “countries” with troubled past but the divide is more problematic in the US since they have been following the “black code” Code_Noir engrained in the successive US founder’s mind who were literally slave owners. (Georges Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, ...)

The young generations needs to reckon their past and change the constitution by including discussions with all the American population with regards to land and people they stole. 


 think racism is bad, we have to respect people and love them as they are since nobody is perfect, only God, that's why we have to promote love and respect

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I appreciate everyone who has taken the time and energy to contribute to this conversation.

Thank you for providing more educational resources for us, @b300098957!


Nowadays, many of my social software such as Ingram and Twitter often show people against national discrimination.A lot of stars I've been watching, and Internet dividends are divided against this American act.Why is America doing something like that?It's really hard to understand that countries that yearn for liberal democracy discriminate against other peoples.I'm against racial discrimination.It's just that the skin color is different.It just looks different.But it's all human.We're all equal. It's not all about talking about it.We love our own people, and we love others.We call for world peace and we must act on it.We should respect everything in the world.I hope the United States can solve its own domestic problems.Instead of looking for trouble with the people.What makes America so?I am a bit angry.be beyond one's comprehension.

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I am very happy to see this post here. I have been looking for a way to request courses on Coursera if that was possible. I think having a free Anti-Racism course developed by a college or university would be amazing. Of course it would need to be stressed that having a certificate saying you took the course doesn’t make you Anti-Racist, its in your actions, but at least it would be something. 


Curating source information and unpacking it would be so beneficial for people who feel as though there is too much out there and they could use some guidance. Using some of the sources you have here, alone with material from Ibram X. Kendi, Tiffany Jewell, and definitely Jane Elliott - who I have already emailed. I think it would be a really great tool and a great action for Coursera to display a commitment to education and intercultural development, diversity, inclusion and equity. 


Would anyone know where to start and who to talk to? @Laura 

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Hi @Ashly, thanks for your support and suggestions. Coursera is actively working on getting more anti-racism and social justice content onto the platform.

This short course just launched and is free for all: Police Brutality in America Teach-Out

You can make specific content suggestions in this forum: Course Suggestions

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Oh Rockin! I will be sharing this tonight! Thank you so much!

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Progress in less violent policing is slow across the nation.  At least in some quarters, bad policy and behavior had been acknowledged, apology given, and reform advocated per  Terrence Cunningham’s 2016 speech at the IPAC 2016   https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/18/us/official-apologizes-for-police-role-in-mistrust-by-minorities.html.  

Separately, there are success stories of reform as shared by one who succeeded in Rochester per Munk Debate a week ago, and a follow up article  https://nationalpost.com/opinion/munk-debates-wayne-harris-we-need-to-re-imagine-not-defund-or-abolish-police  

“in 2015 U.S. President Barack Obama commissioned a task force on 21st-century policing that has many recommendations for the federal government, police agencies and municipalities on how to do policing right.”

In my city, I know that our police department has been pushing to create a culture where approach to potential violence is de-escalation so that force is minimally used unless officer’s life is at risk.  City leaders across the nation would need to have a plan to implement the Task Force recommendations and hold the police force accountable with a timeline.


I believe I belong in this forum! I came to Coursera specifically to enhance my knowledge of understanding around racism and the current revolution happening here in America. @Laura I thank you for all those references!!! I will be studying them each eagerly. I want to be part of the solution; part of the love that is necessary to bring about the biggest changes!  Glad to meet you all. 

I can be very outspoken and passionate about this, I will do my best to think before I type! Haha!😄  -Angie

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This is my theory.

Religion means "connection" and actually they arise as a mystic research for a personal emancipation. Religion as Connection means therefore to cultivate Human Relationships and Loving the World. The Study of Connections leads to investigate on the Universe and how it was created.

Due to many factors, like Persecutions and lack of Knowledge, a Community searches for "Safety" inside symbols. These symbols degenerate into stereotypes so that if they are changed, all the community would suffer. This is how mystic Research dies, and how children are educated to nail their mind into stereotypes.

Since Personal Emancipation is a danger, people grown with stereotypes always need a Leader to feed them. The fear of Starvation is the deepest in our soul, and this anxiety makes people obsessed even if they don't want. This people is obsessed with "Safety" and their behaviour is always motivated by pleasing this Big Parent. This creates Competition which means "Many are asking for the same thing" and the final prize is Safety.

So people fight for Safety. The first victims are those who are meant to be the victims.

I am not the first one to say this: Feminism points against "Patriarchate"; but all the movements that say "Power to me", they express they are not aware that they are still in this loop: Feminist Atheism is a reaction, but not an Action. Rebellion is not Emancipation.

So when I hear of  DefundPolice, put money in school, I only think: - this adult generation is lost. Only if we let children develop without social stereotypes, they would create a net of relations.

Thanks for asking.